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Maggie Roche of The Roches sister vocal trio dies at 65

Maggie Roche, the folk-rock singer-songwriter who since the mid-1970s had performed and recorded as a trio and in pairs with her two sisters, has died.

Roche died of cancer, according to a statement posted online Saturday by her sister and bandmate Suzzy Roche. She was 65.

Growing up in Park Ridge, New Jersey, eldest sister Maggie formed a duo with middle sister Terre, and while touring, they caught the attention of Paul Simon, who brought them in as backup singers for his hit 1973 album, "There Goes Rhymin' Simon."

In 1975, they released an album of their own. Shortly after that, youngest sister Suzzy joined to form The Roches trio. The voices of this threesome blended majestically, with Maggie's rich contralto balanced by Terre's soprano and Suzzy filling in the mid-range.

They played Greenwich Village folk venues and, in 1979, released the well-received "The Roches," the first of their dozen albums as a trio, and were booked on "Saturday Night Live."

With "We," the first song of that debut album, they charmingly introduced themselves, with acoustic guitar backup, to the listening world:

"We are Maggie and Terre and Suzzy. /

"Maggie and Terre and Suzzy Roche. /

"We don't give out our ages, and we don't give out our phone numbers. /

"Sometimes our voices give out. But not our ages and our phone numbers. / .

"And as a point of interest, we spell our name R-O-C-H-E."

Their final studio album, "Moonswept," would be released in 2007. Maggie also recorded albums as a duo with sister Suzzy.

Maggie and her sisters would never be a big draw or huge sellers. But their unique sound and sensibility, plus their endearing quirkiness, was cherished by a devoted following over the decades.

The statement from Suzzy Roche, who, with Terre, survives her, describes their "dear, beautiful sister Maggie" as "a private person, too sensitive and shy for this world, but brimming with life, love and talent . a brilliant songwriter, with a distinct unique perspective, all heart and soul."

Country star Crystal Gayle inducted in Grand Ole Opry

Country music legend Crystal Gayle was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, nearly a half-century after she first walked onto its stage to perform as a teenager.

Gayle's sister, country luminary Loretta Lynn, inducted her into the country music institution during a Saturday night ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium.

The honor comes almost 50 years after Gayle made her Grand Ole Opry debut, singing "Ribbon of Darkness" at the Ryman when she was just 16. The Ryman hosted the radio show from 1943 to 1974.

"I was very nervous, and I probably stood there and held on really tight and sang my song," Gayle recalled during an interview backstage on Saturday, a few hours before the ceremony.

She brought along with her the shiny silver dress she wore during that very first performance, the one her mother made for her. She planned to bring it out on stage to show the audience, she said.

It was Lynn coming down with a cold that day, as Gayle remembers, that offered the opportunity for her to perform since her sister wasn't feeling well.

After she signed her first recording contract, her debut single, "I've Cried the Blue Right Out of My Eyes" was written by Lynn.

Today, Gayle has fond memories of the Ryman Auditorium when it hosted the Opry — not only when she performed there, but also attending Lynn's performances.

"I got to just roam the halls," she said while flashing a bright smile. She even crawled across the catwalk high above the stage lights, she recalled.

Now, all those years after hanging out in the Ryman when Lynn performed and then taking the stage herself, the fact that her sister was tapped to induct her into the Grand Ole Opry "means a lot in so many ways," Gayle said.

Gayle's 1977 hit "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" is among her most memorable. It was the song that "opened the world's eyes to Crystal Gayle," according to her biography on her official website.

"Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" also secured for her a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

Over the years, many fans — including many women — have reached out to Gayle to tell her how her music has inspired them.

"The things that touch me are the ones that say my music has healed them in different ways, that they can get through a rough time in their life," she said. "That means a lot to me."

The top 10 songs and albums on the iTunes Store

Top Songs

1. Shape of You, Ed Sheeran

2. Paris, The Chainsmokers

3. I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker), ZAYN & Taylor Swift

4. Bad and Boujee (feat. Lil Uzi Vert), Migos

5. Bad Things, Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello

6. 24K Magic, Bruno Mars

7. All Time Low, Jon Bellion

8. Fake Love, Drake

9. Black Beatles (feat. Gucci Mane), Rae Sremmurd

10. Castle on the Hill, Ed Sheeran

Top Albums

1. La La Land (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Various Artists

2. I See You, The xx

3. Trolls (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Various Artists

4. Moana, Various Artists

5. Hamilton, Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton

6. 24K Magic, Bruno Mars

7. Sing (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Deluxe), Various Artists

8. Starboy, The Weeknd

9. NOW That's What I Call a Workout 2017, Various Artists

10. Traveller, Chris Stapleton

__________

(copyright) 2017 Apple Inc.

Adele to perform at the Grammy Awards next month

Adele is set to take the stage at next month's Grammy Awards, where she is nominated for album, song and record of the year.

The Recording Academy announced Friday that Adele will perform at the Feb. 12 show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Previously announced performers include Metallica, Carrie Underwood, John Legend and Keith Urban.

Adele had a hiccup during her Grammy performance last year after a microphone inside a piano fell onto the instrument's strings.

This year the 10-time Grammy winner has five nominations, including album of the year and best pop vocal album for "25." Her No. 1 hit "Hello" is nominated for record and song of the year as well as best pop solo performance.

The Grammys will air on CBS. The show will be hosted by James Corden.

'I've seen rain:' James Taylor bemoans end of Obama era

Half a world away from Washington, James Taylor is greeting fans with a video bemoaning the end of the Obama era.

The singer emailed a clip to fans on his mailing list from French Polynesia on the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration. It shows him standing outside a grass hut in the rain.

In his video postcard, he says: "Hi, it's James in French Polynesia on the last day of the Obama administration, and it feels like it's raining all over the world."

Taylor lives in western Massachusetts. He says he's vacationing en route to his latest tour in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Taylor has been a vocal critic of Trump. He performed at President Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009.

Belafonte to celebrate 90th birthday with new project

Harry Belafonte is turning 90 in a few weeks, and he's planning to use the milestone to release an album that will underscore part of his life's work — fostering racial harmony.

A multi-ethnic children's choir will perform a new version of his classic "Island in the Sun" for a new anthology of his music, "When Colors Come Together: The Legacy of Harry Belafonte." He co-wrote the song for the 1957 film "Island in the Sun." It generated controversy at the time for its exploration of race and interracial romance.

"Most of the things that fuel prejudice, that fuels hate ... are contrived," Belafonte, who turns 90 on March 1, said in a release. "The differences that exist between us should be things that attract us to one another, not alienate us from one another."

Belafonte has been a longtime civil rights activist, marching with the likes of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He is an honorary co-chair of the Women's March on Saturday in Washington.

The album is set for release on Feb. 24.

Spike Lee won't use Chrisette Michele over inaugural gig

Spike Lee says he won't be using Chrisette Michele's music in an upcoming project because of her decision to perform at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.

Michele seemed to allude to the controversy Thursday on her blog , where she wrote: "We can't be present if we're silent." She says she hopes for "peaceful & progressive conversation." She adds that she doesn't mind criticism if it allows her "to be a voice for the voiceless." She used the hashtag NoPoliticalGenius.

Lee wrote on Instagram that he was sorry Michele was performing at the inaugural. He says he was considering using Michele's "Black Girl Magic" in his upcoming Netflix series, "She's Gotta Have It" but won't anymore.

Michele's spokesman confirmed to The Associated Press that she will be performing Friday.

Bruce Springsteen gives farewell concert for Obama staffers

President Barack Obama's farewell gift to some of his longtime staffers was a private concert from "The Boss."

A senior White House official says Bruce Springsteen performed a roughly two-hour acoustic concert Jan. 12 for members of Obama's staff, mostly people who had served for all eight years of his presidency. There were no cameras present for the event.

The official wasn't authorized to discuss a private event and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Obama presented Springsteen with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in November.

Springsteen appeared on the campaign trail for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the fall.

A rare, unknown photo of Frederic Chopin probably found

Poland's culture institute in France says it believes a previously unknown photograph of Polish composer and pianist Frederic Chopin has probably been found by private researchers. If so, it would be only the second confirmed photographic image of him.

The Polish Institute in Paris said on its website a photo of a daguerreotype image was found by Swiss physicist Alain Kohler, who cooperated with music journalist Gilles Bencimon of Radio France Internationale.

Kohler told The Associated Press Thursday by phone that he found it in the private collection of a musician in Switzerland. He said the daguerreotype was made around 1847 by Paris-based artist Louis-Auguste Bisson, who took the only confirmed photo of Chopin.

Kohler said the original daguerreotype needs to be found to allow experts to confirm whether it is an image of Chopin.

The black-and-white photo shows a distinctive nose, full mouth and thin face which is consistent with the only previously confirmed photograph of Chopin, taken by Bisson. The background also seems alike.

The piano master was born to a Polish mother and a French father in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, in central Poland. At the age of 19 he left Warsaw for Vienna and then for Paris, where he composed, gave concerts and taught. He died in 1849 in Paris.

He is famous for his piano music, largely inspired by Poland's traditional and folk dances and tunes, such as mazurkas or polonaises.

A Chopin music competition promoting young virtuosos is held in Warsaw every five years, the next one in 2020.

Music Review: Run The Jewels packs a smart punch on 'RTJ3'

Run The Jewels is one-half Outkast protege and native ATLien (Atlanta) Killer Mike and one-half El-P, a seasoned Brooklyn hip-hop head. Together, they put forth a formidable combination of conscious-but-not-corny lyrics and urban street savvy.

On "Run The Jewels 3," their third studio album, the duo opens with "Down (feat. Joi)," a down-tempo number replete with vocal back-phrasing reminiscent of Killer Mike's ATL brethren from Outkast. It's a solid song, but a somewhat underwhelming first track.

The good stuff begins with "Call Ticketron," a breathless staccato assault chronicling RTJ's rise to prominence, told through euphemism, street knowledge and gunplay imagery.

Also good is "Stay Gold," with its EDM-level bass reverb and spooky melody. It's a simultaneous shout-out to strong women and the tough path toward the top of the rap game. Killer Mike even takes time to name check the Atlanta Braves mid-'90s pitching rotation of John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux.

It's a strong album, and it's easy to see where Run The Jewels are coming from lyrically in relation to their life path. Where they're going is less decided. There is a fleeting appetite for rap this culturally astute. Killer Mike spent as much time touting Bernie Sanders' candidacy as he did rapping in 2016. But rap needs "Run The Jewels 3" for balance, if nothing else.

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Ron Harris is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Journorati

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